Weekly Boffin no. 30

Hurricane Irma has rightly dominated the news recently. We have all seen and read the heartbreaking stories of families trying to rebuild their lives in the face of utter devastation. Among these terrible scenes there are little spots of light which restore our faith in humanity and even in some cases bring a smile to faces in testing times. One such story is that of Sister Margaret Ann, the nun with the chainsaw. In most situations the idea of a nun with a power tool evokes memories of gory 80s horror films but Sister Margaret Ann couldn't be further from that unsettling image. Armed with her trusty saw she has been out cutting up trees felled by the storm to clear roads and keep vital emergency services moving. Initially such a story might come as a surprise but recent history is littered with unusual deeds being performed to help others and to raise money for charity. We all remember the ice bucket challenge and the original Calendar Girls spawned a slew of "tasteful" photo shoots that ended up on kitchen walls around the world. However, some people are willing to go that little bit further to raise money for good causes. Australian Nick Le Souef has locked himself in an enclosure for weeks at a time for charity. Nothing difficult there until you discover that he shares the space with 300 spiders including Redbacks and Tarantulas. There was an online feed which people could watch around the clock and donate. Nick managed to raise $50,000. American James Jablon spent a month in the lion enclosure at a Florida wildlife rehab centre. In making over $160,000 Jablon sustained nothing more than "a few bites and scratches" for his troubles. Chris Todd tried to ride a giant hamster wheel called a Tredalo from Wales to Ireland. Unfortunately the weather proved to be a bigger issue than lions and spiders. Todd capsized when the waves got too large then the vessel was damaged beyond repair whilst being towed back to the mainland. People are willing to put themselves through all manner of hardships to improve the lives of others and this should be saluted. As impressive as these feats undoubtedly are I haven't been inspired. I'm afraid I draw the line at sitting in a bath of baked beans.

Job of the Week Architectural Document Controller / Project Administrator, City

  • Ensure that the office policies for administrating paper and electronic records are maintained.

  • Taking care of the update and organisation of all documentation received.

  • Preparation of document materials for all meetings.

  • Must have a good knowledge of Excel, Adobe Acrobat and PhotoShop.

  • Knowledge of AutoCAD, 4Projects & ScanDocs would be advantageous.

  • £20,000 - £22,000

On This Day

On this day in 1894 Simon Marks and Tom Spencer open a Penny Bazaar in Manchester. History doesn't record how popular the Percy Pigs were back then.

What's On

Experience the latest scientific developments first-hand with New Scientist Live at ExCeL London. Attend talks from scientists and experts, and take part in exciting workshops, from drone combat to 3D selfies. This year’s special guests include Tim Peake, Margaret Atwood, Heston Blumenthal and Chris Packham.

Fact Of The Week

Casu marzu is a Sardinian cheese that contains live maggots. The maggots can jump up to five inches out of cheese while you're eating it, so it's a good idea to shield it with your hand to stop them jumping into your eyes!